REUTERS

The European Union has responded to Belarus' call to withdraw the diplomatic missions of Poland and Lithuania, saying that it is "unfounded and regrettable."

"The demand of the Belarusian authorities that Poland and Lithuania withdraw their ambassadors and significantly reduce their diplomatic representations in Minsk is unfounded and regrettable," says a statement by High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on October 4.

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"It goes against the logic of dialogue and will only further isolate the authorities in Minsk," the statement says.

Attempts by the Belarusian authorities to target certain EU Member States will not succeed in weakening EU unity, which was clearly reaffirmed by the European Council on October 1, when all EU Member States called on the Belarusian authorities to end violence and repression, release all detainees and political prisoners, respect media freedom and civil society, and start an inclusive national dialogue.

"The EU continues to support the democratic right of the Belarusian people to elect their President through new free and fair elections, without external interference," Borrell said.

Recent developments in Belarus-EU relations

  • On October 2, the ambassadors of Poland and Lithuania were summoned to the Foreign Ministry of Belarus. According to an official representative of the Belarusian diplomatic department, this was done "taking into account the unambiguously destructive activities of those countries."
  • He also explained that the diplomats were asked to bring by October 9 the number of their diplomatic missions' workers in Belarus to parity with that of Belarusian foreign institutions in their countries. This is a reduction from 25 to 14 diplomats for Lithuania and from 50 to 18 for Poland.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania said that they were not yet considering the possibility of recalling their ambassador and were not going to decide anything "on staff reduction." The Polish Foreign Ministry took a similar position.
  • Commenting on the decision of Vilnius and Warsaw, Minsk emphasized that the Belarusian Foreign Ministry's demand was mandatory.